Indonesia says it has found disease in cows shipped from Australia; Australia denies blame

Lumpy skin disease (LSD) has been detected in Australian cattle exported to Indonesia by sea, Indonesia has informed Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF). Indonesia has now suspended cattle imports from four Australian pre-export quarantine facilities.

Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Mark Schipp issued a statement saying that the finding came after those cattle had arrived and spent some time in Indonesia.

“As Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer, I can confirm that lumpy skin disease, or LSD, has never been detected in Australia, and Australia remains free from the disease. Given the presence of LSD in Indonesia, positive results in cattle post-arrival in Indonesia are not unexpected.”

Dr Schipp insisted that Australia had robust biosecurity systems in place for the ongoing monitoring of Australia’s animal disease status, including for LSD, which is a highly infectious viral disease of cattle and buffalo that is transmitted by biting insects. It is not a disease that poses a risk to humans.

DAFF has said that in 2019 LSD was reported for the first time in Bangladesh, China and India. In 2020, there were reports of it in Taiwan, Nepal, Vietnam, Bhutan, Hong Kong and Myanmar. In 2021, outbreaks occurred in Sri Lanka, Thailand and Malaysia.

Vessels, and the goods and people they convey, present potential pathways for this disease, including through contamination and hitchhiker pests as vectors.